Driving simulators are a great tool for drivers to use in their training. These tools simulate difficult road conditions and situations without the risk of material damage to your vehicle or injury to yourself.
A simulator is a screen displaying a visual simulation and physical representations of the vehicle’s control system. It can also include a haptic feedback system.
Driving simulators allow drivers to practice safely and learn at their own pace. This self-paced learning makes them more comfortable with new situations and more likely to retain knowledge. It also allows them to try different strategies for improving driving performance without risking injury or vehicle damage.
Research has shown that simulator training can reduce the likelihood of car accidents. A study by Wright State University found that high school students who received driver training in a simulator experienced fewer driving infractions and car crashes over six months and a year than students who did not receive simulator instruction.
Additionally, simulators are a cost-effective way to train drivers because they can be used for training sessions without needing vehicles or instructors. This can save your business money on vehicle repairs, gas prices, and labor costs.
The best driving simulators mimic the physical experience of being behind the wheel. They can also simulate various unexpected scenarios, such as animals running onto the road or drivers losing control of their vehicles. This type of training allows learners to practice responding quickly and safely without the risk or consequences of real-life situations.
Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of simulator training in improving driver performance. In all but one of these studies, drivers improved their performance compared to those before the training program. In addition, simulator training facilitates recurrent training for important skills that reduce operational costs, such as eco-driving.
Another benefit of simulators is that they allow instructors to record and replay scenarios with learners. This can be done decision by decision to improve understanding of the choices made during a scenario. Instructors can then share this feedback with learners to help them make the right decisions on the road.
Using simulators gives learners immediate feedback about their driving habits, allowing them to learn from their mistakes and practice without risk. They can also practice the same scenario over and over again, improving their performance each time.
Simulators can train drivers for various situations, from everyday driving to dangerous ones that drivers ideally never encounter. Using simulation training to prepare drivers for these scenarios helps reduce driver accidents and improve overall safety on the road.
Researchers found that students who took part in virtual driver training showed significantly fewer crashes over six months and one year than a control group that did not use simulators to supplement their on-road instruction. These results support the growing body of research that indicates that simulators can help train and evaluate new drivers more effectively than traditional training methods—moreover, using a simulator’s much easier to document and provide feedback for each driver.
Even experienced drivers have relatively little exposure to critical events like tire blowouts or animals crossing the road. With simulators, you can train your fleet to experience a range of scenarios in a shorter period than conventional driver training would be feasible. This promotes regular preparation in emergency scenarios, similar to how commercial pilots rehearse every six months in flight simulators.
While no simulator can replicate actual hours of driving, it provides a safe and controlled environment to practice important skills like scanning and hazard detection. Using a simulator can also allow your team to experiment with different factors that affect performance on the road, such as drowsiness, distractions, and fatigue, without putting their vehicle or themselves at risk.
Studies show that experiential learning, or “learning by doing,” increases knowledge retention and helps to develop brain “muscle memory.” Combine that with a safe environment, objective feedback, and cost savings, and you’ve got an effective tool for improving your fleet’s skills and safety.